Monday, February 27, 2006

Never mind
Tests Show Powder Found in Dorm Not Ricin

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The FBI determined a powdery substance found in a roll of quarters at a University of Texas dormitory was not ricin after initial state tests had indicated it was the potentially deadly poison, a spokesman said Sunday.

The FBI tests did not identify the substance, but they came back negative for the poison that is extracted from castor beans, said San Antonio FBI spokesman Rene Salinas…

Texas health officials did "just a quick test and they don't check for the proteins in ricin," Salinas said… [Ed. – Okay, AP, what exactly did they test for that indicted it was ricin?]

The a [sic] 19-year-old freshman and her roommate were both evaluated for possible exposure to ricin and cleared at a hospital.

Roughly 400 residents of the Moore-Hill dormitory were evacuated Friday night while hazardous materials crews sanitized the area where the substance was found…
There's a second and equally important story here. But, as is typical of the AP, it involves some actual reporting work and therefore wasn't pursued. Here's the question:

Do the “Texas health officials” have a properly trained staff and the right equipment to conduct the correct tests?

In today’s environment, such state-run facilities have become critical first responders against the treat of terrorism and/or a viral pandemic; since 9/11/01 the federal government has been pumping hundreds of millions of dollar into the states to make them so.

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